What is Salat?

The word “Salat” and its derivatives occur in the Scripture over 70 times and is emphasized by God Almighty as a critical aspect for the spiritual development and progress of believers.

According to the Sunnis and Shia, the Salat was decreed by God to the Prophet Mohammed during the night of ascension, in which God decreed 50 Salats per day, only to be reduced to 5 Salats per day due to pleading of the Prophet.

While the average Sunni or Shia may not have any problems with the above tale, it is not only blasphemous that God would not know what to decree upon His creation, but it is also historically false as God has showed us many times that all the prophets prior to Mohammed knew Salat...

and carried it out along with their families and followers (see 6:162, 10:87, 11:87, 14:37, 19:31, 31:17).

What is Salat?

According to the Qur'an, the main objective of Salat is "the rememberance of God," which is acheived through the recitation of God's Scripture: 

"I am God, there is no god except Me, so serve Me and hold the Salat for My remembrance." (Qur'an 2014)

“Recite what is inspired to you of the Book and hold the Salat, for the Salat prohibits evil and vice; but certainly the remembrance of God is the greatest. God knows everything you do.” (Qur’an 29:45)

This explanation can best be seen in the example of Shu'ayb, who was accused by his people of receiving instructions through his act of Salat: 

They said: "O Shu'ayb, does your Salat prayer order you that we leave what our fathers served, or that we do not do with our money as we please? It seems only you are the compassionate, the wise!" (Qur'an 11:87) 

Accordingly, Salat can be defined as "remembering God, through regular recitation of His Scripture, with the aim of gaining knowledge, patience, and peacefulness". 


How to carry out the Salat?

To make a proper Salat requires certain steps and preparations that God has ordained with His knowledge. In this article we will examine the steps and details of Salat as found in the Qur’an.

A. Be of a Clear Mind

Claity of mind and focus are the most critical aspects of Salat as the words of God that are recited need to be reflected upon and understood - and not simply parroted as some people of old had become accustomed to.

“O you who believe, do not approach the Salat while you are intoxicated, until you know what you are saying. Nor if you have had intercourse, unless traveling, until you bathe. And if you are ill, or traveling, or one of you has excreted feces, or you had sexual contact with the women, and could not find water, then you shall select from the clean soil; you shall wipe your faces and hands. God is Pardoning, Forgiving.” (Qur’an 4:43)

"And their Salat at the Sanctuary was nothing but noise and aversion. Taste the retribution for what you have rejected." (Qur'an 8:35)

B. Timing for Salat

According to the Qur’an, there are three Salat times that have been prescribed:

  1. Salat Al-Fajr (Dawn Salat 24:58);
  2. Salat Al-Wusta (Middle Salat 2:238);
  3. Salat Al-Isha (Evening Salat 24:58).

“O you who believe, let those who are maintained by your oaths, and those who have attained puberty, request your permission regarding three times: before the dawn Salat, and when you put off your attire from the noon time, and after the evening Salat. These are three private times for you. Other than these times, it is not wrong for you or them to intermingle with one another. God thus clarifies the revelations for you. And God is Knowledgeable, Wise.” (Qur’an 24:58)

“Maintain the Salawaat; and the middle Salat; and stand for God dutifully.” (Qur’an 2:238)

In addition to the revealing names of each Salat which identifies its timing, we find an abundance of detail in the Qur’an giving more information to the specific starting times in which they are to be observed:

“And hold the Salat at the two parts of the day, and the near part of the night. The good deeds take away the bad. This is a reminder to those who remember.” (Qur’an 11:114)

Verse 11:114 gives us the three Salat timings as 1) the first part of the day (dawn), 2) the second part of the day (noon), 3) the near part of the night (evening).

“Hold the Salat at the zenith of the sun, until the approach of the night; and the Qur’an at dawn; the Qur’an at dawn is witnessed.” (Qur’an17:78)

Verse 17:78 further defines the timing for the Wusta/Middle Salat as beginning with noon and ending with sunset – this is why the middle Salat does not carry the name of a time period, but rather a description of its position between the other two Salat.

"He said: 'I have enjoyed materialism over the remembrance of my Lord, until the sun had gone beyond the horizon!'" (Qur'an 38:32)

Verse 38:32 clarifies to us from the story of Solomon that the Wusta/Middle Salat ends when the sun can no longer be sighted above the horizon.

  • Salat Al-Fajr (timing begins with first light and ends with sunrise);
  • Salat Al-Wusta (timing begins with noon and ends when the sun is no longer visible);
  • Salat Al-Isha (timing begins with dusk and ends with total darkness).

A few observations/notes on the three Salat times:

  • Although the Sunnis make a claim that there are five Salat times (as decreed by their Hadiths), they only observe three Salat using the proper protocol of having an audible voice (17:110);
  • The Shia, although claiming to adhere to five Salat like the Sunnis, only hold three Salat times each day (claiming that they are permitted to join between some of the Salat times);
  • The day contains a minimum of three parts/edges (see 20:130).
  • The Jewish Bible, in affirming the previous knowledge people have of Salat, also affirms that such a practice was carried out three times each day (Daniel 6:10, Psalms 55:16-17).

C. Ablution/Cleansing of the Body

As a preparation for Salat, an ablution is required using water, or, if not available, clean dry soil.

“O you who believe, if you rise to hold the Salat, then wash your faces and your hands up to the elbows, and wipe your heads and your feet to the ankles; and if you have had intercourse, then you shall bathe. And if you are ill, or traveling, or you have excreted feces, or you have had sexual contact with the women, and you cannot not fi nd water, then you shall select from the clean soil; you shall wipe your faces and your hands with it. God does not want to place any hardship on you, but He wants to cleanse you and to complete His blessings upon you that you may be thankful.” (Qur’an 5:6)

D. Be in a Stationary Standing Position

The normal mode for achieving the Salat is to be in a stationary standing position. However, if there are impeding circumstances, then a person may attempt to achieve the Salat while walking or riding.

“Maintain the Salawaat; and the middle Salat; and stand for God dutifully. But if you are in a state of fear, then you may do so while walking or riding. If you become secure, then remember God as He has taught you what you did not know.” (Qur’an 2:238-239)

E. Use a Moderate Voice, Recite the Scripture

As highlighted in the begining of this article, reciting from the Scripture is the esence to helping a person achieve the benefit of Salat. To this end, God teaches us that the Salat must be carried out in an audible/moderate voice, so that every word is heard and understood.

With regards to what should be read, the answer will depend on the need and situation of the person conducting the Salat. Some verses are in the form of a plea, while others are an invocation upon God to assist and to protect from the devil and his whispers/influence. There is no right or wrong in which verses to select. Each verse from the Scripture has its own unique aspects and its own unique purpose.

“Say: ‘Call on God or call on the Almighty; by whichever you call on, to Him are the best names.’ And do not be too loud in making your Salat, nor too quiet; but seek a path in between.” (Qur’an 17:110)

“Recite what is inspired to you of the Book, and hold the Salat, for the Salat prohibits evil and vice; but certainly the remembrance of God is the greatest. God knows everything you do.” (Qur’an 29:45)

“Hold the Salat at the zenith of the sun, until the darkening of the night; and the Qur’an at dawn; the Qur’an at dawn is witnessed.” (Qur’an 17:78)

F. Perform Two Prostrations

The normal length of a Salat is two prostrations (which may be shortened to one in a sate of fear). Each prostration by default involves kneeling to achieve the position of prostration.

“And if you are with them and you hold the Salat for them, then let a group from among them stand with you and let them bring their weapons; and when they have prostrated then let them be behind you; and let a group who has not yet made the contact prayer come and make the contact prayer with you, and let them be wary and let them bring their weapons with them. The rejecters hope that you would neglect your weapons and goods so they can come upon you in one blow. There is no sin upon you if you are impeded by rainfall, or if you are ill, that you place down your weapons. And be wary. God has prepared for the rejecters a humiliating retribution.” (Qur’an 4:102)

G. End Salat With Specific Prayer

Salat is ended with a specific prayer to God outlining the Divinity and Oneness of the Almighty.

“And say: ‘Praise to God who has not taken a son, nor does He have a partner in sovereignty, nor does He have an ally out of weakness.’ And glorify Him greatly.” (Qur’an 17:111)


Believers vs. Submitters

While there is no doubt that any person may attempt to perform Salat as he/she wishes, a study of the Scripture reveals that the main people who will be successful at making the Salat on a regular basis are ones who have advanced to the stage of being Mumins (believers).

“O you who believe, do not approach the Salat while you are intoxicated, until you know what you are saying. Nor if you have had intercourse, unless traveling, until you bathe. And if you are ill, or traveling, or one of you has excreted feces, or you had sexual contact with the women, and could not fi nd water, then you shall select from the clean soil; you shall wipe your faces and hands. God is Pardoning, Forgiving.” (Qur’an 4:43)

“So, when you have done the Salat, then remember God while standing, or sitting, or on your sides. So, when you are relieved, then hold the Salat. Indeed, the Salat for the believers is a timed schedule.” (Qur’an 4:103)

While most people may not realize the diff erence, the Scripture has made a clear distinction between “Muslims” (those who simply have submitted to God) and “Mumins” (those who have advanced and strive with their wealth and lives in the sake of God):

“Th e Nomads said: ‘We believe (Amana).’ Say: “You have not believed; but you should say: ‘We have submitted (Aslamna)’, for belief has not yet entered into your hearts.” If you obey God and His messenger, He will not put any of your works to waste. God is Forgiver, Merciful. Believers (Muminoon) are those who believe in God and His messenger, then they became without doubt, and they strive with their money and their lives in the cause of God. These are the truthful ones.” (Qur’an 49:14-15)

Therefore, if you are not able to benefit from Salat, do not despair, the benefits will come eventually when you have calmed your mind through patience and have nourished your soul through good works.

Other Issues

Being in Groups or Alone

Salat may be performed in groups or in an individual basis.

“And if you are with them and you hold the Salat for them, then let a group from among them stand with you and let them bring their weapons; and when they have prostrated then let them be behind you; and let a group who has not yet made the contact prayer come and make the contact prayer with you, and let them be wary and let them bring their weapons with them. The rejecters hope that you would neglect your weapons and goods so they can come upon you in one blow. There is no sin upon you if you are impeded by rainfall, or if you are ill, that you place down your weapons. And be wary. God has prepared for the rejecters a humiliating retribution.” (Qur’an 4:102)

“The angels called to him while he was standing, making contact (YuSali), in the temple enclosure: ‘God gives you glad tidings of John, authenticating the word from God, and a master, and steadfast, and a prophet from the upright.’” (Qur’an 3:39)

Friday/Jum’a Salat

One issue which arises from time to time is that of the Jum’a (Friday) Salat. The establishment of a Salat similar to the Christian “Sunday” or the Jewish “Sabbath” is based on a misconception of verse 62:9 which speaks of the importance of Salat, especially when people are gathered together on their “trade day,” and never does it establish a special Salat or day for Salat.

“O you who believe, if the Salat is called to at the gathering day, then you shall hasten towards the remembrance of God, and cease all selling. This is better for you, if only you knew.” (Qur’an 62:9)

Funeral Salat

Salat, in its full form of reciting the Scripture with a total of two prostrations is to be held at the funeral of any Submitter/Believer who has died. No Salat can be held for those who are known as being rejectors.

"O you who believe, witnessing a will if death is approaching one of you shall be done by two who are just among you. Or, if you have gone forth in the land, then any two may suffice if death is approaching. If you have doubt, you will hold them after making the Salat, and they will swear by God: "We will not purchase with it any price, even if he was a near relative, and we will not conceal the testimony of God, or else we are then of the sinners." (Qur'an 5:106)

"And do not hold the Salat for any of them who have died, nor stand at their grave. They have rejected God and His messenger and died while they were wicked." (Qur'an 9:84)

Beware!

The benefits from being able to commune with the One true God and receive direct feedback and/or answers to prayers cannot be emphasized enough. It is for this reason that we must all be aware that the devil and his followers have this vehicle in their sights and that severing the communion with God and rendering the act to a an empty ritual has and will continue to be a priority item (cutting us off at the source):

“The devil only wants to cause strife between you through intoxicants and gambling, and to repel you away from remembering God and from the Salat. Will you be deterred?” (Qur’an 5:91)

“Then generations came after them who lost the Salat, and followed desires. They will find their consequences.” (Qur’an 19:59)

Now that we have found the Salat once again, will we discard our ability to commune with God and turn the Salat into mindless empty rituals as the generations before us have done?

Will we be deterred?

 


Taken from the book "The Natural Republic"

English